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Driven: BMW 4 Series hits the road

Even, not odd: The BMW 4 Series sports a new name but familiar style.

Sub-$70K entry model to boost BMW 4 Series range soon as two-door range arrives

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17 Oct 2013

BMW has launched its all-new two-door 4 Series model line in Australia this week with the first wave of fully redesigned 3 Series-based coupes, and has announced that the entry level to the range will fall below $70,000 early next year.

The German luxury car-maker announced in August that the 4 Series Coupe – the successor to the previous 3 Series Coupe – would kick off from $73,200 (plus on-road costs) with the 420d turbo-diesel four-cylinder, with the range filling out with the $86,500 428i turbo-petrol four and $108,500 435i turbo-petrol straight-six.

However, in a move to maximise the new model’s sales potential, BMW Australia will also now bring to market a 420i turbo-petrol four-cylinder variant, producing 135W – down 45kW compared to the 428i – and starting from an appealing $69,500 when it arrives in January.

BMW Group Australia managing director Phil Horton said he had high hopes for the 4 Series, with its high level of specification and features across the range making it “an outstanding drive around town, or a cutting-edge performance vehicle on more demanding roads”.

The default level of equipment is rich for the price.

For the sub-$70,000 outlay for the 420i – and the identically equipped 420d diesel priced $3700 upstream – the list runs to 18-inch alloy wheels, an eight-speed automatic transmission with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters (a six-speed manual is a no-cost option), dual-zone climate-control air-conditioning, a Bluetooth phone connection, powered memory-function sports seats up front trimmed in leather, satellite navigation, a reversing camera connected to front and rear parking sensors, and bi-Xenon headlights that were part of the optional lights package on the 3 Series.

The 4 Series also includes BMW’s Active Protection package. This is a proactive system that, when it senses a crash is about to happen, will tug the front seat driver and passenger tighter into the seat via the seatbelt, close all the windows, slide the sunroof shut if one is there, and even watch the driver for signs of fatigue.

A full suite of electronic handling aids are onboard, along with six airbags covering all seating positions.

Full specifications for the 420i will be provided closer to launch, but the main ingredient is a 135kW/270Nm 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine.

The 420d uses a 135kW/380Nm 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder diesel, which offers official combined-cycle fuel consumption of 4.6 litres per 100 kilometres.

Further up the field, the mid-specification $86,500 428i steps up to 19-inch alloys and includes an adaptive suspension package wearing BMW’s M badge. It also adds automatically dimming wing mirrors, a beefier audio system, a Wi-Fi hotspot for sharing a smartphone’s internet connection, and four-way electric lumbar support for the front seats.

Under the bonnet, the 428i features a retuned version of BMW’s 2.0-litre turbo-four petrol engine. However, in this case, it pumps out a much more robust 180kW of power and 350Nm of torque. Fuel economy is rated at 6.4L/100km.

Until high-performance versions arrive, the flagship for the 4 Series range is the 435i.

However, where previous generations wearing the ‘35i’ prefix have been powered by a twin-turbo 3.0-litre inline six-cylinder engine, the 4 Series introduces a new engine using only a single turbocharger, although with a twin-scroll function to widen the spread of boost.

It produces 225kW and 400Nm – down on the 250kW and 450Nm of the previous twin-turbo engine, but with enough malice to push the 435i from 0-100km/h in just 5.1 seconds. Despite its high output, fuel consumption for the 435i is rated at 7.4L/100km.

For your $108,500 spend, the 435i adds keyless entry, a premium Harman Kardon audio system, the M Sport package that runs to a suede-look roof lining, more aggressive-looking body plastics, M-logo alloy wheels, an M-badged steering wheel, and variable electric steering that adjusts its weighting at the push of a button.

While purists will grumble about the loss of a default manual gearbox – it is a no-cost option, but it means buyers will have to wait for the car rather than pick it from the showroom – the eight-speed automatic does bring some clever fuel-saving technology.

At speeds above 50km/h, the gearbox will disengage while the 4 Series is coasting downhill, flashing up a warning on the dash that the driver will need to ride the brakes to stop building up too much speed.

All 4 Series models also include BMW’s EfficientDynamics technology, which includes an EcoPRO driving mode that blunts the throttle and holds higher gears to eke out fuel savings of up to 25 per cent, BMW claims.

Automatic engine idle-stop is also fitted standard across the board.

As with the 3 Series range on which the 4 Series is based, owners can choose from the Sport, Modern and Luxury lines to wrap the car in a theme at no extra cost.

The themes vary, but run to exterior and interior trims, different grille treatments, and individual wheel patterns.

An M Sport package – standard on the 435i and featuring rims that will not allow the car to be fitted with snow chains – is also available on the other three variants.

There a rich list of paid options, too, running from $2920 for a sunroof, down to $320 for a headlight system that can automatically dip the high beams in front of oncoming traffic.

A driving assistant that includes lane departure warning and a system that can recognise if a pedestrian steps out in front of the 4 Series and get the brakes ready for an emergency stop is $900, while a blind-spot warning system is $1000.

One difficult choice for buyers will be the $500 they will potentially need to spend on the rear seats.

The BMW 4 Series comes with a 60:40 split/fold rear seat by default, but for a little extra outlay owners can swap that out for a 40:20:40 system that makes life a little more comfortable for rear-seat passengers if the boot space is needed for a few sets of skis.

BMW 4 Series pricing*
420d (a)$66,545
428i (a)$76,302
435i (a)$88,528
*Excludes on-road costs.

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